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Former militant released

December 23, 2009

A German court has ordered the release of Verena Becker, a former member of the Baader-Meinhof Gang who is remains accused of complicity in three murders in committed more than three decades ago.

Verena Becker as a young woman
Becker was arrested in August based on new forensic evidenceImage: picture alliance / dpa

A German court has ordered the release of a former member of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, a far-left militant group active in West Germany during the late 1970's and early 1980's. Verena Becker, 57, was arrested in August on suspicion of complicity in the killing of chief federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback and two other people on April 7th, 1977. Although she is set to be released, she still remains a suspect in connection with the murders.

"At the current stage of the investigation, although the accused is not believed to have participated in committing the murder, she is strongly suspected of three counts of abetting murder." the Federal Court of Justice said in a statement. "(However) there is no compelling reason for her continued imprisonment on remand."

New forensic technology reopened case

The murder case of Buback and the two other victims was re-opened in April 2008, after investigators used the latest forensic technology to examine a letter that claimed responsibility for the murders.

Becker's DNA was found on the letter, leading police to raid her house, where they found more incriminating evidence.

Becker has previously spent time behind bars, after being sentenced to life in prison in December 1977 for taking part in at least six assassination attempts. However, she was later pardoned and released in 1989.

Dossier Deutschland im Herbst Bild 1
The group targeted German elites and US military bases in Germany during the late 1970's and early 1980'sImage: AP

The Baader-Meinhof Gang, also known as the Red Army Faction (RAF), was active in a violent campaign against German elites and US military bases in West Germany. The group, which officially disbanded in 1998, is suspected of killing at least 34 people.

A German documentary released earlier this year alleges that Becker was in fact a mole for the West German government, and received more than 100,000 Deutschmarks (50,000 euros) for her information on the RAF.

Editor: Chuck Penfold